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Generally, though, these signs of life are occasioned less by the fact an object is silver than by what the object is.

For instance, at this Bath sale at Aldridges on 30 July the top silver price came for a 58oz tankard of 17th century form but 20th century manufacture – Elkington & Co. Birmingham 1907.

What made an attraction out of what would otherwise have been just another piece of repro was the engraved presentation inscription: Royal Automobile International Touring Car Trial 1908, 2000 miles, Class J, Winner: Ariel 45.8HP. To complete the appeal to vintage motoring enthusiasts, the domed lid had an applied cast RAC life member’s badge. Auctioneer Ivan Street had reckoned it might make £800-1000 – but the motoring associations brought wider interest and it sold to a London dealer at £2000.

Mr Street was told later that only four Ariel cars are known to exist in England – the firm soon concentrated on motorbikes. He was left wondering what the price would have been had the 1908 winner been a more glamorous make – Bentley, say.

The other good seller among the silver was another collectors’ piece – the elegant 14oz tea caddy illustrated right.

The work of T.B. Pratt & Arthur Humphreys, London 1782, the 41/2in high, 51/2in wide (11.5 x 14cm) caddy was monogrammed and had cast floral sprigs to the slightly domed cover. It sold to a local dealer at £1700.

Best of the furniture in what was a busy sale for the time of year, was a fine Victorian burr-walnut work table. With a rectangular moulded-edge top above a fitted shallow frieze drawer and basket slide and shaped carved aprons to all four sides, the 2ft 4in (71cm) wide table on carved, fluted and reeded tapering legs, sold at £2000.

Aldridge’s, Bath, July 30
Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent